How to Create a Portable Wall Map

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Last school year, we discovered that sometimes, when studying history and geography, what you need is a really big map. Unfortunately, with limited wall space – and, you know, the fact that we school in the main living areas of our home – we don’t have a spot for a really big map. So, in a stroke of brilliance, I decided that if we could have a portable preschool learning center, we could have a portable wall map.

How to Create a Portable Wall Map

My idea was to use Mod Podge (regular glue would work, too, but I had a whole bottle of Mod Podge) to adhere a paper map to a tri-fold presentation board.


You know those projects that turn out just exactly as you had envisioned them? This wasn’t one of those.

The paper on the map I bought was really thin, so it turned out to be virtually impossible to get it smoothed out flat on the presentation board once it hit the glue, despite the fact that I had a helper and a ruler for attempting a smooth finish. We wound up with something of a topographical map with a few extra mountain ranges and ocean ridges.

Still, imperfect though the final result was, I think it’s going to serve our purposes well. It folds up to be stored behind our bookshelf when not in use and it’s large enough to easily locate the places we’ll be studying. It gives us a much better “big picture” view of the world than our globe, atlas, or Google maps.

how to store wall maps

As long as we keep in mind that some countries are not as mountainous as they appear, I think we’ll be fine. If you try this project, let me know if you figure out a way to do a better job of keeping the map smooth – which may involve buying a sturdier map to begin with.

What creative ways have you found for storing or displaying maps when space is limited?

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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    1. I think (and I could totally be wrong) that a laminated map would have been hard to glue. I also wondered if it would fold well along the presentation board folds. That’s one reason I wanted to paper map – I think it should have just been thicker paper.

      I think a laminated map might do well on a flat foam board using those scrapbooking glue dots, but the price of a foam board large enough for the map was cost prohibitive. I thought about framing it in a poster frame, too, but the big ones are pricey and wouldn’t store well. Maybe we’ll just make up names for our new mountain ranges and ocean ridge. 😉

      1. This line typifies why I love your blog! Practical, funny, not afraid to show what didn’t work perfectly but is still a GREAT idea!

  1. I haven’t tried this, but there are a few things that would probably help. You could cover the whole map with contact paper (slowly, and in sections) to make the map sturdier, and with or without contact paper, I would roll up the map tightly for gluing. I don’t know if you started with it rolled up or not, but I would think that it being rolled tightly would give the paper some extra stability as you apply it. Also, try cutting the map into sections, if you have less paper to deal with in a shot, it would make application easier. Sorry to hear you don’t have room for it on the walls! But a stow away map is better than no map! My husband and I decided to getting one of the antique colored laminated wall maps to hang up in our living room. It is accurate and looks nice, plus the lamination keeps it sturdy. We do want to get lots more large maps of different countries, so we are talking about getting one of the pull-down systems for maps. It would save a lot of space! Good luck if you decide to try again, and to anyone else who decides to give it a whirl!

    1. Cutting it and doing it in smaller sections would have probably worked well. I’ve got a U.S. map, too, so I may try that with it. Thanks for the suggestion.

  2. Joanne Fabrics has a map panel in fabric. I bet it would be easy to mount on the presentation board (and maybe more forgiving with the glue?).

  3. Glue stick instead of mod podge. The liquidness (new word alert) of the mod podge probably exasperated the extra typography issue..

    1. Ahhh…that’s a good idea, too. See? I’m so glad I asked. I knew I should have started with the U.S. map! We won’t be using it as much. I could have used it as my practice map and improved my technique with the world map.

  4. I think that’s a great idea! I suppose you could have laid the map out on the trifold and cut it into three parts the same size as the pieces on the trifold. It might be easier to glue flat in three smaller pieces. Or even to laminate and attach with velcro in three pieces so that it would still fold away.

  5. We took our large map and had it laminated. Now we just roll it out on the floor or tape it to the pantry door for an hour or so.
    It works for us, as we too, have no room for a wall map to be placed on the wall.
    For awhile we had the same map pinned to a cork board that we kept behind the couch, but pulled out for our studies! It worked great as well…until someone decided to step on said board. 😉
    I like your idea as well. We have a few smaller maps we may try this with. It would be a great way to have the maps easily accessible, and sturdy for the younger kiddos.

  6. There are several spray adhesives on the market that work great, I use them all the time instead of modge podge to stick paper to many kinds of surfaces.

  7. We keep maps under thick clear plastic on our table. We rotate through a city map, country map and world map. It entertains us during dinner time as we trace our summer road trip route, find local parks, or recite the countries if Central America.

  8. I was JUST talking about this today to another homeschool friend :). I don’t want to hang them up on our walls as it’s real wood paneling. Once you put a hole in it there’s no fixing it. This is such a great idea!!!

  9. I glued ours to a bulletin board, US map on one side and world map on the other. Like others said normal glue might have worked better.

  10. I used the same boards to put information about each subject on individual boards. Provides a moving class board for each subject and allows for visual instruction. I can then put them away and they aren’t all over the walls.

      1. One more suggestion. Laminate with contact paper and you can use Vis-A-Vis or Expo markers on them too. Now you don’t have to have big wall boards and you don’t have to erase things to show or teach something else.

  11. I did something very similar, but I used a piece of sturdy foam board, then purchased two maps off amazon that were dry-erase peel and stick wall calendars. They are essentially two, 2×3 stickers. I put the world on one side and the US on the other. I’ve found the dry erase feature to be really nice! The board floats from living room to kitchen to wherever we need it

  12. I bought a roller shade from IKEA that I plan to glue a map to and hang from the ceiling. I saw it in their catalog and thought I’d try it. I’ll let you know how it works. 🙂

  13. Kris – Where did you find the map that fit the tri-fold board? I’m having a hard time finding an up to date world map that size! Help!

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